Japanese radish and Japanese horseradish, two different plants but a lot of confusion! How does the misunderstanding arise?
Let's face it right away, theJapanese radishis the plant botanically known as Eutrama japonicum or wasabia japonica. It is thanks to Japanese radish that you can use wasabi (that spicy green sauce) when you go to eat sushi!
The Japanese horseradish is the plant botanically known as Armoracia rusticana, also from this root an aromatic green sauce is prepared but with a different flavor from wasabi. Plus, what everyone callsJapanese horseradishit is a plant native to Europe and very widespread especially in the north of Italy.
For further clarity: the rhizomatous roots of theJapanese horseradish (Armoracia rusticana). The rhizomatous roots of theJapanese radish(Eutrama japonicum, the only ingredient ofwasabi).
If these are two different plants, how does the misunderstanding arise?
The misunderstanding arises from two factors, the first being similarities.
Both theJapanese radishthat theJapanese horseradishI'm:
- Herbaceous plants
- Plants with fleshy rhizome
- Plants from which a green sauce is produced
The second factor is the adulteration of the wasabi sauce. When you buy wasabi, read "Japanese horseradish". In reality, the addition of horseradish is only done to save on the real raw material that makes up the wasabi: the root of Eutrama japonicum.
In order to avoid falling into the same error, the term of is spreading in Japan han–wasabito indicate theoriginal wasabiproduced only from the rhizome ofJapanese radish.
This herbaceous plant stands around 50cm tall. It has large, rough leaves of an intense green color. Flowering is summer: the flowers are small, white and have four petals, gathered in racemes.
The cultivation of horseradish is simple: just a dry, fertile soil and a position in partial shade. In Italy it is grown mainly as an annual plant (despite being a perennial plant). Sowing takes place in February. The plants are 30 cm apart and grown in rows 50 cm apart. Irrigation is only necessary in case of prolonged drought or pot cultivation.
ThereJapanese horseradish rootit has a sweet and slightly spicy flavor. What we call Japanese horseradish in Italy it is so widespread that it is part of the food and wine tradition of some regions such as Basilicata (where there israfanata)and in the Triveneto where thekrenorhorseradishit's asaucehorseradish-based used to accompany meat or cold cuts.
Horseradish root, as stated, is used to create a substitute forwasabi, a blend where Japanese radish is present in minimal percentage.
Paradoxically, if we Italians call thehorseradishwith the title "Japanese"In Japan horseradish is called"western wasabi” (seiyō wasabi 西洋 わ さ び).
Japanese radish or wasabi plant
TheJapanese radish, called improperlyJapanese horseradish, is a perennial herbaceous plant famous for being the only ingredient ofgreen sauceused as a topping for sushi, sashimi and nigiri.
The grated root gives life to thewasabi: very hot Japanese green sauce. In Italy, in Japanese restaurants and on supermarket shelves, with the name ofwasabi, we find a substitute for it. The substitute in question is made with Japanese horseradish (Armoracia rusticana) and other ingredients such as mustard, starch, food coloring (dehydrated spinach powder) and only a very small fraction of the true Japanese radish(when present!).
Do you wantto grow Japanese radish in Italy?You will have to face many difficulties. There are few places in the world where it is possiblecultivation of wasabia. Large-scale wasabi cultivation is practiced in these regions:
- Izu Peninsula (in Shizuoka prefecture, Shizuoka wasabi is very popular).
- In the prefecture of Nagano (the wasabi cultivation of Azumino can be visited if you are in those parts! It has become a real tourist attraction).
- In Iwate prefecture
- In Shimane prefecture (in this area the varieties are producedHikimi wasabi).
There are artificial growing facilities in areas north of Hokkaido, however, as demand for wasabi it is very high, Japan itself imports it from abroad, among the major producers are New Zealand, Israel, Thailand, Taiwan and Korea. In Europe the wasabi it is grown on a large scale in the UK and Iceland.
Don't you feel discouraged by what has been said and still want to grow wasabi? Know that this plant prefers a cool, humid climate. Temperatures must be between 8 ° and 20 ° C. Therewasabi plantorJapanese radishit is very slow growing, so you will need to be patient to harvest the first fleshy rhizome.
The first rule forgrowing Japanese radishis not to be in a hurry:wasabi plantit can take up to three years to reach full maturity.
How to start cultivation? You don't have much choice: you have to aim for sowing. The seeds of the wasabi plant are easily found. Buy them abundantly because they are low germination. The seeds of theJapanese radishcan be found at “this Amazon page“.